Emrich Mar 4, 1995, Choiceless Awareness and Non-fixation

This talk was given by the discarnate spirit, Aaron, and channeled by Barbara Brodsky. The talk was originally presented in March 1995 during the Winter Meditation Retreat.

Barbara: Aaron has asked me to begin by reading two short selections. The first is from the Kabir book, poem number 33 in this book:

The small ruby everyone wants has fallen out on the road.
Some think it is east or us, others west of us.
Some say, "among primitive earth rocks," others, "in the deep waters."
Kabir's instinct told him it was inside, and what it was worth,
and he wrapped it up carefully in his heart cloth.

This is an excerpt from the poem "Flight of the Garuda," song 15:

To believe that meditation is only when the mind rests quiet,
And maintain that there is no meditation when the mind moves
Is proof of not knowing the core of stillness and movement,
And of not having mingled stillness, occurrence and awareness.
For this reason, fortunate and noble heart-children
Whether moving or still, mind is the continuity of awareness.
So, when you have fully comprehended stillness, occurrence and awareness,
Then practice these three as one.
This is how stillness and thought occurrence are non-dual.

Aaron: Good evening to you all. I am Aaron. While I am telepathic, I do not invade your privacy, but I do pick up any confusion which may arise as you spend your day in meditation. Perhaps the greatest area of confusion I see is about the nature of this "ruby," as Kabir has expressed it, and where it is to be found.

We have used the term "stillness," and that is one expression of the ruby. Peace is another expression, that great peace-shantih, "the peace that passeth understanding." This peace does not come by stopping arising, nor is it be found somewhere out there, east, west, under the sea. As Kabir said, it is in the heart. You might call such peace an expression of Buddha nature, Christ consciousness, pure spirit body, or pure heart/mind.

What is this "pure heart/mind?" We have explored the idea that the Unconditioned or Eternal offers infinite expressions of itself. Conditioned mind does not directly know the Unconditioned, but comes to understand it by its expressions. There is a story of blind men and an elephant. They are brought in to "see" this beast. One touches the trunk and says, "an elephant is like a giant snake." One holds a leg and notes, "an elephant is like a tree." A third feels the elephant's side and says, "No; an elephant is like a wall." But all are true. When you put together the expressions, you start to have a clearer concept of the whole. We have seen that everything that arises in the conditioned realm is an expression of the Unconditioned, or, to say it in another way, there is nothing which arises that is not God.

Pure spirit body bears a different relationship to the Unconditioned in that it does not arise! It is not a conditioned expression of the Unconditioned, but is to God as a cup of water is to the sea. It is not the whole sea, of course, but there is nothing of the sea itself that is not within the cup. There is nothing in this essence of you which is different in any way from what we might call the unconditioned or God. This purest essence does not contain mental, emotional or physical bodies. These are expressions of the pure spirit body, the pure heart/mind. I call this pure heart/mind aspect of you a spark of God.

I have said you do not need to seek the ruby elsewhere. Well, if that is true, if it's always there, why don't you experience it all the time? Speaking with one of you today, I gave the example of a path on a mountain-side. The path is there. When a fog rolls in, you say, "The path is gone." The path hasn't gone anywhere, but there's fog, and you no longer can connect with the path. When you rest in this space of pure heart/mind, and you do rest there far more often than you know, then you experience your innate peacefulness, wholeness and joy. When you depart from that space into unawareness and confusion, then it is as if the fog rolled in. Where is the path? Where is peace?

What is the nature of this fog that prevents you from seeing and experiencing the truth of yourself. It is not the arising of the mental body, not mental body's expression as dual mind, not the expressions of that dual mind. It is fixation on the dual, discursive mind and the belief that this dual mind is something separate from the divine aspect. As soon as there is belief in that separation, you lose the truth of yourselves. How do we penetrate the fog? How do we remember that everything that arises is expression of the divine and therefore is NOT separate? By the light of the wisdom and clear seeing. Of course, we come to that clear seeing through meditation. Your meditation practice is not to find anything that's not already present, but to reconnect you to the deepest truth of yourself.

The confusion that I see occurring here today surrounds that term we call choiceless awareness. Choiceless awareness means to rest in whatever is present, understanding the conditioned nature of its arising and that whatever has arisen is an expression of the pure heart/mind, an expression of God. Seeing that, you cease to take a dual stance against that which has arisen, but let it point you back into the ground of your being, the divine core. Here equanimity is present, equanimity with arising, neither grasping or pushing away. For this "choiceless awareness" to be truly choiceless, everything that arises must be seen as divine play, divine expression. No exceptions. The difficulty is that you do make exceptions, taking stance against that which you judge as "other-than," the fear, anger, desire. Even this "other-than" judgment is not what fogs in your peace. Delusion grows from the belief that this arising thought is true and from the contractions that form about it.

You may rest in a state of pure awareness, very present with your breath, awake and connected. Into that space a thought arises. It is just a thought. If you move into a dual mind state, arising thought feels "other-than" and is experienced like a small push. Dual mind's conditioning leads you to chase after the thought or to push the thought away. With this confused relationship with the thought, energy contractions form around it-the energy of grasping or pushing. Then you wonder where your peacefulness and stillness have gone. It is not the arising of thought that deprives you of the direct experience of your innate peacefulness. It is the contraction around the thought. You can start to get in touch with the thousands of these contractions that come into your everyday life.

Last summer at a retreat, one day there was a lawn mower going back and forth. People were sitting in meditation, and suddenly in the distance, there was "Brr-rrr-rrr-rrr." "Hearing, hearing." Energy began to contract with a fear, "this noise is going to distract me. It gave rise to a very valuable discussion. Barbara and John brought up Achaan Chah's question, "Is [that sound] coming in to bother you, or are you going out to bother it?" "

My dear ones, can you see that it is not the noise that distracts you. It is your relationship to the noise, your defending against the noise. The noise is not coming in to bother you. You are going out to try to stop it because of the fear that it will bother you. I offer the image of a rather snarly dog on a chain. He is sleeping in front of his doghouse when a child rides by on a tricycle, wheels rattling a bit. The child is just going by on the tricycle. Hearing that noise and feeling himself to be the protector of his property, the dog dashes out to the end of his chain, barking. Is the child coming in to bother the dog? Did the child pause to taunt the dog? The child was just riding his tricycle. You all act as if you are dogs on chains, conditioned. "Here comes that which I feel I must defend against." And you run to the end of your chain, yapping at it. Of course, there's no peace.

Some of you may be displeased with the picture I have painted of you, and a bit indignant: "I am not a yapping dog." But you're yapping at my present provocation, aren't you? If it's just words, against what do you need to defend?

Every arising of the phenomenal realm is simply a conditioned arising, a change in the weather. If you're outside taking a walk in the woods and occasional clouds go by, you don't pay much attention to them because they present no threat, just a small cloud. If you are lying on the beach in the sun and that same cloud blocks the sun, immediately you run out to bother it. "Go away, cloud. You are taking MY sun!" The core of your work, then, is first to watch the arisings of thought, impulse, sensation and know your relationship to them and second, to begin to discover that you are always resting in that space of pure awareness, of infinite peace, to discover what pulls you out of awareness of that space. It is your own fear which encloses you in the fog of delusion that you have lost peace.

When there is an arising, the lawnmower going by, and there is a momentary contraction around the lawnmower, if there is mindfulness, you note that contraction almost immediately, as it arises. The contraction around the hearing is not the hearing itself. That contraction, also, does not pull you out. Now this is a tough one. I'm going to be more specific. What really pulls you out is fixation on the contraction. Here is the delusion. The hearing was not "other-than," but the arising of contraction, like or do not like, and the energy contractions therein, are judged and experienced as "other-than." I want you to think about the difference between contraction itself and fixation on the contraction. I'm going to ask Barbara to make a loud noise. I want you to watch any contraction around that noise, and then, whether you simply note the contraction around it and let it go, or whether there's judgment or wanting to hold on to the contraction for defense Let's just observe. (There's a long pause, and then Barbara gives a sudden, loud shout. And again.)

Could you feel that shift? Of course the body startled from the surprise of hearing and there was a contraction of energy. The energy contraction is simply a conditioned arising, just as was the physical sensation of hearing. Fixation on any conditioned arising pulls you out of that state of pure awareness. By "fixation" I mean a self-identity with, a move to change, prolong or control it which is movement of the small ego-self.

What if you see the fixation after a time, and then release it? Then, yes, you do come back to that state of pure awareness again. The body may still be reverberating from that contraction. There is a distortion, a warp of sorts, in the energy field. In my book, Path of Natural Light, I have delineated practices with which you can work with that distortion and release it. I'm not going to speak to that here. What I want you to begin to see is how easily you can come back home. As soon as you catch it, whether it's a fraction of a second or ten minutes later, as soon as you catch it and re-open, you are home.

You are not denying the arising of fear, anger, desire or any mind state. If those arise, then you work with them skillfully, simply being aware that they are present until they begin to soften or dissolve. To be aware of a mind state is not to fixate on it. It is not to hold the anger, not to have aversion to the anger. It's simply to be aware of it. It is not the mind state, any more than it is the arising of any thought, that pulls you out of that state of pure awareness. Anger is just another cloud, another arising of conditioned mind. It is harder to make space for the anger than simply for a thought like "planning," but it certainly can be done. You are not denying anything in your experience but observing the fixation around each contraction that follows the thought or sensation. Observe how that contraction seems to have an "other-than" quality.

On a recent, stormy day, the plane that Barbara was on flew through an open patch and straight toward an enormous, heavy gray cloud. Even though she knew it was just a cloud, her energy contracted with the thought "We're going to crash!" Then, noting the fear engendered by the thought, judgment arose. You give solidity to what seems to push you by your fixation on it. Then you give it permission to push you because you're fixated on staying in control of it. As soon as there's the separation, "that against me," then it can push you, but if there's no separation, there's no pushing or pushed. When she noted the judgment with a spacious interest, the whole "solid" structure collapsed!

I speak here of the kind of push of somebody angry at you at work, the flat tire, stepping on a tack or even the smaller pushes such as the spilled glass of milk or memory of something sad or unpleasant. When these things are painful, there's going to be a contraction around it. Stepping on a tack is just stepping on a tack. Feeling pain because you stepped on a tack is just feeling pain because you stepped on a tack. Neither the stepping on the tack not the pain that's resultant of that pull you out of your peacefulness. Your own defended response is what pulls you out. When there is stepping on the tack, and resultant pain and contraction around the pain, are clearly noted, it is just what's going past. Yes, it's unpleasant, but there's no dwelling on it, no fixation.

Even it angry or grasping responses do arise, and they will, wherever you catch it, that's where you start. "Judging, judging. Blaming, blaming," whatever is there. Notice that this contraction has shifted to "other-than" and remind yourself, "not other-than." Note how the thought of "other-than" arose. Remind yourself that the dual mind is an expression of the divine mind. At first it will seem mental, but a deeper awareness will catch on.

At that moment, you shift it back into pure awareness, and both the thought and the contraction, in the traditional language of these teachings, just self-liberate: Poof! Yes, there may be reverberations of that contraction, which take longer to leave the heavier density physical and emotional bodies. You may even be trembling, but you're back in a place of very calm, pure awareness, just watching that shaking with a good deal of spaciousness. You are back to the ground of your being, just watching the show. This is the back and forth play that I want you to watch for the remainder of the retreat. Keep it simple, begin wherever you are.

What I am proposing, is nothing different than mindfulness practice. The only difference is that you become increasingly aware of this ruby and where it lies within, that the peace you seek does not need to come from controlling what's happening out there, and fixating on it, but by letting it move past, and coming back again and again to this space of divine perfection, the space of pure awareness. Remember, you're not getting rid of that which pushed you nor of anything. You're simply re-opening to the heart again.

Copyright © 2000 by Barbara Brodsky